HP revamps EVAs, adds LTO-4

By Kevin Komiega

Hewlett-Packard used its annual Americas StorageWorks Conference earlier this summer as a launching pad for new models of its Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) systems, a new family of tape drives based on the LTO-4 format, new DAT tape drives, and a first-of-its-kind tape blade developed specifically for HP’s BladeSystem c-Class enclosures.

Each of the members of the new generation of EVA midrange disk arrays, including the EVA 4100, 6100, and 8100, out- paces the performance of previous models and uses a new software technology that can shrink or grow volumes on-the-fly.

Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing for HP’s StorageWorks division, says the new EVA models are 24% faster than previous generations, feature additional redundancy between disk controllers and drives, and provide more-efficient capacity utilization through the use of Dynamic Capacity Management (DCM) software.

Much like thin-provisioning technology, DCM can double capacity-utilization rates. The software leverages the Virtual Disk Service (VDS) volume shrink feature in Windows Server 2008 to continuously monitor storage utilization rates and automatically grow or shrink host volumes to match application requirements, thereby reducing the necessity for ongoing storage administration and helping to reduce “stranded” storage.

“From the perspective of the EVA, the software doesn’t trick the application into thinking there is more physical storage present than there is, like you would see in most implementations of thin provisioning. The volume size the application sees through DCM is the actual size of the volume,” says Eitenbichler. “DCM technology and thin provisioning are really two different ways toward getting similar results of increased utilization and lower cost.”

Thin provisioning vs. DCM

Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Tony Asaro explains that despite the similarities, thin provisioning and DCM are two completely different technologies. Thin provisioning enables users to create large virtual volumes, but only consume the amount of capacity used by actual data, according to Asaro. With DCM, all of the storage allocated would be unavailable to other applications.

“The value of DCM is that you can easily grow or shrink a volume online,” says Asaro. “Instead of creating a 2TB volume, you can create a 500GB volume. If you experience rapid data growth it’s easy to increase the size of the volume, or if you find that your data doesn’t grow materially you can decrease the volume.”

Unlike thin provisioning, DCM requires the operating system and storage system to be integrated.

“They are two different technologies that both provide users with a more- efficient way to provision and utilize capacity. They are actually complementary,” says Asaro.

Eitenbichler claims the combination of DCM with other hardware and software features, such as VSnap, will help users optimize drive utilization, eliminate unnecessary disk purchases, and shrink the power, cooling, and space requirements.

The disk arrays are available in a number of configurations and capacity points, from the EVA4100 Starter Kit for small SANs up to the 120TB EVA8100. The 4100, 6100, and 8100 support Fibre Channel and iSCSI connectivity, remote replication with EVA Continuous Access, and both block- and file-level I/O.

Tape additions

HP has also unveiled several new flavors of tape drives for a wide range of customers, including drives based on the LTO-4 and DAT tape formats, as well as a tape blade for blade enclosures.

The StorageWorks LTO-4 Ultrium-1840 takes advantage of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption features supported by the LTO-4 specification.

The Ultrium1840 includes HP’s Data Protector Express Single Server edition software with hardware encryption support at no additional cost. The LTO-4 tape drives will be available in StorageWorks MSL, EML, and ESL E-Series tape libraries.

The second addition to the HP’s tape portfolio is the StorageWorks DAT 160 drive, which is designed primarily for use with ProLiant 100 and 300 series servers. The DAT drives are available with either a SCSI or USB interface and will deliver backup speeds of up to 50GB per hour and offer 2x the capacity of existing DAT drives with 160GB per cartridge.

This article was originally published on August 01, 2007